As a follow-up to their campaign against “the corporate take-over of Africa’s food,” members of the Bexhill and Hastings group of the World Development Movement (WDM) met with MP Greg Barker.
They expressed concern about Great Britian’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition ( New Alliance) and the financial support that is being given to it by the government.
Group Chairman Denis Lucey opened the lobby, stating briefly WDM’s objections to the New Alliance.
He said: “£600 million pounds of UK aid money is being given to support this G8 initiative which provides aid money and pledges of corporate investment. In return, countries have to make changes in their land, seed and trade rules, which will help corporations to increase their control over Africa’s land, seeds and markets. Far from helping the African people to prosper and raise themselves out of poverty, this is nothing less than huge land grab for the benefit of powerful corporations looking to enrich themselves at the expense of the majority of the African population.”
According to the UN, said Jack Doherty, 70% of the world’s food is produced by small scale farmers and in sub-Saharan Africa at least 70% of farms are small scale. “The new Alliance will have a huge impact on the livelihoods of small scale farmers, . These hard-working small farmers, the majority of whom are women, produce enough food to feed most of the continent. However they are held back by their inability to travel any distance to market their crops, due to very poor roads within regions and between adjoining countries. Aid money is urgently needed for local infrastructure as a priority before export - driven crops. The farmers also lack storage facilities and are unable to get the best price for their produce. Addressing these basic needs would enable African producers to lift themselves out of poverty and free them from dependence on foreign aid.”
Greg commented: “I was very interested to discuss this issue with the local branch of the World Development Movement and I believe it is important that the issues at stake are debated.
I believe that the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Africa can make an important contribution to tackling the underlying causes of poverty and hunger in Africa. Increased domestic investment in agriculture by both small-scale farmers and agribusinesses is critical for sustained growth. However, global food and agribusiness companies can make a valuable contribution to agriculture sector growth and poverty reduction in Africa, by sourcing products from small-scale farms and by providing training and access to improved technology.
I understand how strongly many people in our area feel about this matter, not least the issues being debated in Ghana, and I will be raising it with the International Development team.”
More information on this campaign is available at www.wdm.org.uk
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